Saturday, May 24, 2014

MeekinOnMovies on...Ducktales: Remastered (multiplatform)

Ducktales for the NES was one of these ‘underrated’ classics you probably heard about once the internet and nostalgia gaming became a thing. Sure, many gamers probably had the same experience I did: expecting a game based on the “Ducktales” series to suck, then being pleasantly surprised by it being a competent platformer with a neat pogo-stick-y kinda gimmick. It was a good time. Of course, I was…7 years old when that game came out, and if there’s one thing retro gaming has taught me, it’s that pleasant surprises are worse the second time around.

Which brings us to “Ducktales: Remastered”, a, well, remastering of the classic “Ducktales” game featuring gorgeous graphics, a fully voiced storyline, new gameplay mechanics and nuances, and a literal vault of goodies to unlock. First impressions are mixed, and quite a lot like having sex with your girlfriend when your parents are the next room over and the door to your bedroom doesn’t properly shut; it’s a lot of stops and starts, and so impossible to get into rhythm you might as well give up and play canasta.

Why? Because “Ducktales: Remastered” seems to have a thing for interrupting your game with lame cut scenes. The cut-scenes are greatly voiced, and certainly pull on the strings of nostalgia’s banjo, but after the first…five of these things you kind of start to wonder what Capcom was thinking.

Every one of the game’s levels features several of these scenes, too. Whether you’re on the moon, in the Amazon, in a haunted mansion, or any of the other locales, expect to be stopped frequently to listen to Scrooge McDuck and company babble on about stuff you won’t care about. The cut scenes are skippable by hitting pause, then hitting the ‘skip cinematic’ button, but requiring two different button presses to ditch these things in an old-school action platformer is like using a blowtorch to cook bacon – it works, but there should be an easier way.

Outside of this game-flow-breaking problem, the rest of “Ducktales: Remastered” largely depends on you. The graphics are gorgeous and there are lots of neat little touches, including a virtual vault you can dive in to and swim around in and unlockable art and music, giving the treasuring hunting nature of the game some purpose. It controls really well, and outside of some pogo-stick stickyness, the gameplay elements are executed serviceably. Each level now requires you to collect various pieces of treasure located throughout the map – so you’ll be going all over each of the game’s levels to pick up one Magoffin or six, avoiding dastardly enemies, bounding on their head, and attempting to get through the whole thing before dying.

But be fully warned, this is a punishing old-school platformer in every sense. 3 lives per level, if you die, you start from the beginning. You will die; you will hate yourself, this game, and those MOTHER FUCKING CUTSCENES with controller-chucking-at-the-closest-mallard frustration. Some gamers like this sort of thing, “I Wanna Be The Guy”, “Super Meat Boy”, and “MegaMan” have taught us that in the right context frustration can actually enhance a game’s quality. If you’re the kind of gamer that believes that, then “Ducktales: Remastered” is probably right up in your pond.

Thus, I’m not mad at “Ducktales: Remastered” just disappointed. It’s like giving a kid 100 dollars to buy themselves some clothes and they bound out of the store with 2 pairs of 50 dollar socks. It’s not what you expected, and a bummer, but you can’t blame them for trying. I personally hated the cut-scenes and disliked the difficulty level, but I’m sure there’s tons of “Ducktales” fans out there that are totally stoked to hear LaunchPad, Scrooge, and Huey, Louie and Dewie, for the first time in over a decade. But if you’re someone who remembers this game with moderate fondness, and are on the fence about whether to pick this one up, I’d stick with your untainted nostalgia. It’s free.

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